Saturday, November 20, 2004

X34A, SMART-1, SX-8, Blue Gene/L

The world got new things and new speed records these days. 

That was X34A which already aimed to reach Mach 7 to 10. Previously it reached Mach 7 in 2004 March. Again, on 16th of this month (Nov 16, 2004) it made its Mach 10 flight successfully. You know what; it was two miles per second. One important thing is that it was only experimental flight. Scram jet won’t be able to take part in passenger flights. In my opinion, saying to use it in passenger flight is misleading. It might be useful to use in combination with rocket boosters for space shuttle to reduce fuel consumption and hence lighter spacecrafts. Link

Ion propulsion rocket gets to the Moon
Washington, DC, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- A European Space Agency rocket entered moon orbit Monday in a unique mission using a pioneering power plant.
The s-called SMART-1 spacecraft blasted off from Kourou, French Guiana, Sept. 27, 2003, on top of an Ariane 5 rocket, the Washington Post reported.
Since then its ion propulsion engine has been slowly moving the spacecraft by expelling positively charged atoms, or ions, of the gas xenon, accelerated by an electrical field inside the spacecraft's engine.
The engine does not combust fuel; rather it splits atoms with electricity to get ions, accelerates them at high speed, and then ejects them, driving the spacecraft forward. SMART-1 generates its electricity by converting sunlight with outsize solar arrays that give the spacecraft a 45-foot wingspan.
Although ion propulsion does not generate much thrust, nothing slows it down in space so it constantly accelerates. Now that it has entered Moon orbit it will use the ion engine to slow down and study the lunar surface.

Previously, NEC’s Earth Simulator was the fastest with 35.86 teraflops. 
In September IBM said its Blue Gene/L supercomputer had surpassed NEC's Earth Simulator to become the world's most powerful supercomputer. IBM's Blue Gene/L is capable of a sustained data processing speed of 36.01 teraflops. 
In October, NEC claimed its SX-8 is the most powerful 'vector-type' supercomputer, with a sustainable data processing speed well beyond IBM's recently unveiled Blue Gene/L supercomputer. NEC said its newest SX series model has a peak processing speed of 65 teraflops and a sustainable performance of roughly 90 percent that speed or 58.5 teraflops
The NEC and IBM supercomputers are different in structure. NEC says it’s SX-8, because of its vector architecture, "delivers much higher sustained performance than scalar supercomputers" like IBM's Blue Gene/L. Link  

After that IBM Blue Gene/L has managed speeds of 70.72 teraflops in November.
Supercomputer SX-8 Series (Multi-Node System)Supercomputer SX-8 Series (Multi-Node System)"

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